In 1930 a newspaper article described a new boat being built.
"A beautiful craft is now ready to take to the water at Chas Robinson's
boat-building yard at Ohinemutu. Its design is novel to Rotorua and
embodies the latest devices to ensure safety, comfort and speed.
The vessel is built to the order of CB Smith of Hamilton and is for use
on Lake Taupo and the upper reaches of the Waikato".
Rainbow had along and close association with Rainbow Point.
The Smiths were the first family to live there. Betty Steel who still
lives at Rainbow Point can remember first coming to Taupo in 1926.
Betty's father who had the
Rainbow built, wanted a family
project. He liked Taupo and decided to build a holiday home at Rainbow
Point. In those days it was all manuka & scrub. He couldn't afford the
total cost so his brother from Wellington came in as a partner. For
years the Smiths were the only family living there and it is only in the
last 50 years that it has been sub-dived and built on.
As well as building their house for which they had to supply their own
power and water, the family also built a boat shed, jetty and ramp. When
she was used she would be winched down the ramp on the cradle and
brought back up for storage. The jetty, ramp & boatshed are no longer
there, victim to government regulations which saw them being dismantled
over 30 years ago.
The Smiths used the Rainbow for private use on the lake. They had trips
over to the boa harbour and Tokaanu. Betty's father was very fussy about
the weather and would study it before going. She was a very well known
sight on the lake with her distinctive coloured canvas and flag flying.
For a description of the Rainbow once again a reference to the newspaper
article written at the time at the time gives an interesting insight
into boats at the time.
"Details of its construction reveal extensive departures from the
traditional lines. Most noticeable to the ordinary observer is the
exaggerated flair. The bow deck line is almost the full width of the
boat up to a foot or so from the stern, giving a tremendous lifting
power in a seaway. It is very attractive. The underwater forward
lines follow traditional design but from a third of her length from
the bow the floor is almost square to the bilge turn and flat. A
light dead wood deepening to ten inches aft gives good steering
control. The internal arrangements is a new departure. The hull is
all room. A plate glass windshield extends from gunwhale to gunwhale
with a rake aft to protect it from heavy seas. The engine is in the
centre of the boat and housed in a louvred cabinet the topof which
forms a table. In the rear of the engine is a cross thwart with the
steering wheel occupying the same relative position as in a motor
car. All the engine controls are to the lefthand of the
helmsman and are operated without moving from the moving from the
wheel. There is complete freedom of movement and when desired,
camping accomodation is provided by four seats that can be adjusted
as bunks. All the internal fittings are of oiled and varnished oak,
very handsome and useful. No detail has been missed and a fire
extinguishing equipment is installed in the most accessible
position. A feature of construction is the canopy which is carried
on haevy tubular nickled rodsabove the major portion of the
hull from the forward windscreen. This gives all the protection of a
fixed deckhouse without its disabilities. It enables the occupiers
to have absolute freedom of movement and at the same time security
should bad weather arise. The craft is unsinkable having been fitted
with copper air tanks with a buoyancy capacity equal to the dead
weight of the engines and fittings. Deck fittings are in bright work
and the hull white enamel, red underwater body, with black
boottopping, all beautifully finished. Metal work is all heavily
nickled over copper.
The upholstery by Mr W Pakes is in keeping with the general
excellence of the craftsmanship of the builders. The dimensions are
25ft overall, beam 7ft 6", with aworking draft of 20 inches. These
figures do not give an adequate impression of the roomliness of the
The engine is a gray 6-cylinder 40 HP motor which, on the lines of
the craft should give twelve knots or over. A very handsome vessel
and a credit to the designer and also an example to the management
of the round trip as to how a modern passeneger carrying craft could
be built and equipped to be in keeping with the demands of the
times in the matter of lake transport."
is often associated with the well known writer Zane Grey who
regularly visited New Zealand for fishing in the 1920s.
As well as deep sea-fishing waters he also visited Taupo and
mentions that in his book The Anglers Eldorado. While here
he spent most of his time fishing at Waihora Bay. He used the
Rangatira for deep-sea fishing in the Bay of Islands. Many
believed he owned her but this was not so. He had a similar boat
Frangipani built for him which he eventually shipped back to
was originally called the Otehei. She was built by Collings
and Bell in Auckland for the Arlidge Brothers from the Bay of
Islands. They used her and a couple of other boats similar to her
for deep-sea fishing. Rangatira was the first of three built
and was named after Otehei Bay in the Bay of Islands.
The government then owned her for a short time but in the late 1930s
she was bought by two New Plymouth publicans, Ulander and Power, and
it was they who brought her to Taupo.
Donald Hunt leased her for a season and ran her commercially, but
during the war she was laid up in Taylor's back yard.
In 1946 Don McLeod leased her from Ulander who was not the sole
owner. After being out of the water for a number of years the seams
had opened up and she needed a good deal of maintenance to put her
back in condition again. Don carried out these repairs as well as
doing some alterations. The dodger was extended to cover most of
the cockpit, a galley put in and Jack Taylor built a wheelhouse on
Don ran her for ten years with Ron Houghton as skipper. In the mid
1950s Ulander sold her to Ivan Vickery who ran her until the late
1960s when she was sold to the Bay of Islands' Deep Sea Fishing
Thirty-six feet long, she is an all-kauri boat. The original cabin
ran back from the foredeck on one level and there was a small
dodger. She was a hard chine boat with a rounded bottom which was
unusual in Taupo before World War II. She also had a small flare on
her. Originally she was powered by a 110hp Redwing petrol engine
which gave her a speed of 10 to 12 knots.
When Don McLeod took over the lease he decided the engine was not
worth reconditioning so he put in a Scripp V8 and this was not
replaced until Ivan Vickery put in a Ford diesel.
When Zane Grey used her for deep-sea fishing in the Bay of Islands,
he had a weather vane put on her mast in the shape of a swordfish
and this was still there when she came to Taupo.
Zane Grey spent some time in New Zealand fishing and used to come
here in style on his own ship which was the size of the old
Interisland ferry Maori. There were five launches attached
to his ship.
The Rangatira is now back in the Bay of Islands as the
Otetei, being restored to its former style in the days when Zane
Grey enjoyed his deep-sea fishing.
started her sailing career in Rotorua after the Second World War. Built
by M Crawley, an Auckland boat-builder, she was a gift to the Queen
Elizabeth Hospital in Rotorua. This was a Returned Services Hospital
which used Ranui to take convalescing soldiers for trips on Lake
Known then as
El Alamein she was an open boat with a small cabin
and a bunk room up forward. When the hospital was closed in 1952,
Ranui was put up for tender. Ron Martin was the successful tenderer
and had her for two years before selling her to one of Taupo’s old-time
residents - Noel East. Noel put on a full cabin and was first to have
The next owner was from Hawke's Bay and used her privately before
selling her to one of Taupo's most familiar commercial boat operators -
Jim Storey. He had Ranui surveyed and used her for many years,
taking visitors out on Lake Taupo for fishing and sightseeing
In 1980 the present owner, Graham Twiss, bought her.
Apart from much repainting,
Ranui has had no renovations and
still has the original kauri hull and superstructure that Noel East put
She is powered by a Perkins diesel which gives her 78hp and a speed of
nine knots - originally she had one of the familiar Grey Marine
engines. She is licensed to carry 23 passengers plus the captain.
used to be moored in the boat harbour, a derelict with nothing in her
apart from a few floorboards and a few little seats. She didn't have
the cabin that is now on her and every time it rained very hard the
floorboards would float round in the bilge water. People would go past
and say there isn't much romance left in her now. That was in 1974
before she was bought by the Drake family. They stripped her right down
to her bare hull, re-ribbed her and started again. Although the bottom
planks had been submerged in water since 1914 there was nothing wrong
with them and although there was some rot in the knees the planking was
hadn't been used much since the 1950s until she was re-launched in 1976
after a 14-month refit. Five thousand man hours went into her which
included replacing the air-cooled Lister engine with a Chrysler marine,
modifying the cabin, putting in the laminated beams, repainting and many
other time-consuming repairs.
was built by the well-known boat builders, Bailey and Lowe, in Auckland
in 1914. She was built for a Mr Mills and was moored in Shoal Bay. In
the early 1920s she went to Napier where she was used for fishing trips.
She was owned by Sydney Hole the dentist. The great earthquake left her
high and dry in 1931 and she was brought to Taupo in the same year.
Jack Taylor ran her as a commercial tourist launch until just after the
war. On his house in the boat harbour he had painted on the roof "Jack
Taylor for Romance". He also built the Victory at this time and
there are similar features which indicate that Victory's design
was influenced by Romance.
went through a series of private owners until the Drakes bought her in
1974. She has always been called the Romance but used to be a
flush-deck launch. Jack Taylor built a cabin on her and the Drakes
have made the cabin bigger.
She is 26ft 6in long with a beam of 7ft and built with fine lines so she
slides easily through the water. When they built this type of boat at
the turn of the century they only had small engines. The Romance
is heavy, weighing 3½ tons.
A great many people remember her as a commercial tourist launch and once
out on the lake a man hailed the owners asking if he could take their
photograph as he knew a lady from Capetown who spent her honeymoon on Romance in 1937. He said she would appreciate the photo to see that
the Romance was still going.
was built in 1911 by Bailey and Low in Auckland for a Mr Heather who was
a member of the Auckland Harbour Board. During World War I she was used
as a patrol boat by the Navy. The Internal Affairs Department took her
ovand used her as a ranger’s boat on Lake Taupo until
the late 1930s when she was put up for tender.
was built in 1911 by Bailey and Low in Auckland for a Mr Heather who
was a member of the Auckland Harbour Board. During World War I she
was used as a patrol boat by the Navy. The Internal Affairs Department took her ovand
used her as a ranger’s boat on Lake Taupo until
the late 1930s when she was put up for tender.
In 1938 Don McLeod (not to be confused with Don and Cleo McLeod) was
holidaying in Taupo and liked it so much that he decided to stay here.
He wanted to buy a boat and put in a tender for the Rothesay
which was accepted.
She was in bad condition. She had been let go and there were rotten
planks to be replaced. As well as repairing the hull, Don built a
wheelhouse, raised the cabin and added the sponsors on the side to give
a wider deck. Her planked hull was kauri as was the cabin.
is 32ft long and is a narrow beamed boat. She is one of what was called
an “old toothpick” boat. They were very long and the term "narrow
gutted" meant they weren't very wide for the length, in comparison with
boats today. The standard for old boats like her was for the beam to be
a quarter of the length of the boat. (Rothesay was 8ft 6in
wide.) They were built like the Maori canoes and were built to do a
reasonable speed (7-8 knots) for very little power.
Don plied for hire in her up to the late 1950s. She was used for day
and overnight trips as well as for longer trips that sometimes lasted up
to one month. One group regularly booked her right through March,
camping in Western Bay. Mostly though, the visitors slept aboard. There
were four berths on her plus sleeping accommodation for the skipper.
There are many other stories about this popular boat that Don can tell.
She was a very popular boat in her time, flying her flag with her name
on it. Many a time overseas visitors booked a day trip on her and with
a fine day and good fishing, decided to spend a week and cancel their
left Taupo when Don sold her in the late 1950s and apparently she is now
used as a fishing boat in Auckland.
is a family boat, built in Whangarei about 50 years ago. Its history is
a little obscure. She was bought by her present owner, Rex Tindall, ten
years ago and had been used by the previous owner for fishing on the
When Rex bought her she was in a rough condition. The boat has always
had the same profile and apart from painting her white (she was
originally blue and white) and putting a mast on her, she has changed
very little. In fact, her name has never changed.
is 20ft long with a beam of 7ft. She has an all-kauri dodger and
cabin. Powered by a four cylinder Continental engine, which gives her a
top speed of seven knots, she rides very well on the water and is a
steady boat for the lake.
is run from the dodger at the back and has been modified to make her
easier to handle. She has two bunks but no cooking facilities on board.
Rex Tindall comes from Christchurch. He has always been interested in
boats but it was only when he came to Taupo fifteen years ago that he
was able to get the opportunity to buy one.
was brought down from Auckland on a tandem trailer. Rex has done all
the work on her and has had her out of the water several times doing his
heyday was in the 1920s. She was called the Whizzbang and was
then considered to be the fishing boat if you wanted to catch
fish. She had a good reputation and was owned and skippered by Mr
White. Ruahine was a bit different then to what she is now. The
bow and cabin top have been raised.
In the 1920s it would cost four pounds ten shillings for a day's fishing
and five pounds if you wanted to go round to the Western Bays.
Ruahine didn’t have a dodger then, just a straight cabin, so in
those days if people went out for the night they usually slept in tents
ashore. She may have slept a few, but there weren’t many facilities
aboard her as there are on today’s commercial fishing launches.
used to be powered by a one-cylinder engine which was well known for its
pop-pop sound. She was thus called the Whizzbang. Now she has a